Every year, London Historians puts on a big quiz of London history, written and hosted by Londonist's very own Matt Brown. The questions are fiendish, and aimed at a self-selecting bunch of history geeks... but that doesn't mean you can't have a go too.
Below is the full set of questions from the quiz, which was held in the Christopher Hatton pub in Holborn on 18 May 2022. The champions scored an impressive 39.5 points out of 50. Could you have done better?
Round 1: PM Partygate
London’s Prime-Ministerial statues are gathered at No. 10 for a Right Honourable knees-up. Can you name the 5 numbered statues? (The rest are ones to muse over, but not part of the marking.)
Based on this original Londonist article.
Round 2: Back to the pub
1. One of London’s most famous pubs recently changed name to The Holy Tavern. By what name was it previously known?
2. Which London railway station has a pub called the Mad Bishop and Bear?
3. Which East London pub, with both royal and footballing connections, recently reopened after a £1.5 million pound refit?
4. What name is shared by the closest pub to Buckingham Palace, the pub inside Denmark Hill station, and a West End basement bar of a theatrical bent?
5. In 1905, the Old Cheshire Cheese pub received an unusual visitor, who sat in Dr Johnson’s old chair and dined on pudding and bananas. What type of animal was the visitor?
Round 3: HM the Queen
In honour of Her Majesty’s 70 years on the throne, here are 5 Londony questions about her reign.
1. Multiple choice: in which area of London was Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, born? (a) Belgravia, (b) Kensington, (c) Mayfair, (d) Tottenham
2. Elizabeth’s first tube ride was from St James’s Park to Tottenham Court Road, with her sister Margaret. It was an eventful journey – the sisters sat in a third-class smoking carriage and were chased by a ticket inspector after forgetting to hand in their tickets. The little-known event took place on 15 May 1939. How old was Elizabeth at the time?
3. Westminster Hall, Southwark Cathedral and the Queen’s Chapel of the Savoy all contain a similar type of memorial to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. What form do these memorials take?
4. In St Katharine Docks can be found a giant block of acrylic bearing a royal crown – erected to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee in 1977. But the block was second-hand and was originally commissioned (without the crown) for a famous movie. What was that movie?
5. Multiple choice. According to royal chef Darren McGrady, what is the Queen’s favourite type of burger: (a) Venison and cranberry, (b) wood pigeon and fennel, (c) mixed game bird and arborio rice, (d) she NEVER eats burgers.
Round 4: Round the corner
Five questions about the area close to the Christopher Hatton pub, where the quiz took place (on the corner of Holborn and Leather Lane).
1. Easy one to start you off. Head east out of the pub and you’ll soon find yourself dipping down into an old river valley (the one the Holborn Viaduct spans). Which river once flowed openly through this valley?
2. The vast office complex known as Holborn Bars, opposite the pub, was partly designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse. Waterhouse’s practice designed many grand structures around the country but which of his London buildings is a major tourist attraction with millions of visits per year?
3. Which poet died about 100 metres from here in 1770, aged just 17? A novel by Peter Ackroyd is named after him.
4. Who retreated a few metres to the west in 2014, but still raises his hat to the City?
5. Multiple choice. The building we’re sitting in is known as 120 Holborn, and was designed by architect Richard Seifert. His practice is responsible for many of the big 20th century office developments around London, but which of the following did he NOT design? (a) Millbank Tower (b) Centre Point, (c) The charcoal towers above Euston station, recently demolished (d) Tower 42 (or the NatWest Tower)
Round 5: London trees
Coinciding with the Urban Tree Festival.
1. A plane tree known as Barney is one of the oldest and most massive plane trees in London. Where will you find it?
2. Three tube stations have Oak as part of their name. What are they? (Tube only, please... not Overground or DLR)
3. Which country sends London a Christmas tree each year, for display in Trafalgar Square?
4. Where in London would you find the Elfin Oak, an ancient tree stump populated by toy fairies and elves that has Grade II listed status?
5. A famous ash tree stands in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church, engirdled with salvaged tombstones. After which famous novelist is the tree named?
Round 6: Picture round, A Game of Thrones
London’s stone and bronze monarchs have now got together ahead of the Jubilee. Can you name the 5 numbered monarchs? (The rest are ones to muse over, but not part of the marking.)
Round 7: Olympic anniversary
Can you believe it’s been almost a decade since the London 2012 games? That pretty much counts as London history now, so here are five questions…
1. Name the two mascots – one of whom represented the Olympics, and the other the Paralympics
2. In January 2012, successor Olympic city Rio de Janeiro proposed erecting what on top of Primrose Hill?
3. Which London designer had a very busy 2012, creating both the Olympic Cauldron and New Bus For London as well as being the subject of an exhibition at the V&A?
4. In which park did the so-called Dangleboris incident occur, in which the then-Mayor Boris Johnson was left hanging ridiculously from a zipwire while waving flags in support of Team GB?
5. Which company was the official lager supplier to the London 2012 Games?
Round 8: Fictional London
1. In 1392 or thereabouts, around 30 pilgrims set off for Canterbury, telling tales along the way. They started from the Tabard Inn on which London road (using today’s name)?
2. In 1881 Dr John Watson first met the great detective Sherlock Holmes. In which famous London institution did that meeting take place?
3. In 1958, which ursine immigrant arrived in London via the Great Western mainline?
4. In 1984, trouble-maker Winston Smith was arrested by the authorities and threatened with his worst nightmare in Room 101. In which ministry building did this take place?
5. Noted spies James Bond and George Smiley are practically neighbours. Which part of London do they both live in?
Round 9: Pot luck
1. For what, in a London context, are Dame Mary Donaldson and Dame Fiona Woolf best noted?
2. Which piece of cross-Thames infrastructure celebrates its 125th birthday on 22 May this year?
3. And which world-famous novel, which has spawned countless films and is partly set in London, is also 125 years old on 26 May?
4. Another big milestone this year was the 150th anniversary of the first FA Cup, which took place in March 1872. Wanderers from Leytonstone beat the Royal Engineers 1-0. But at which still-existing London venue did the match take place?
5. Multiple choice: which of the following is NOT a square in Bloomsbury?
(a) Woburn Square, (b) Gordon Square, (c) Torrington Square, (d) Markham Square
6. The worst ever aviation disaster in what is now Greater London happened in 1948, when two planes collided in mid-air killing 39 people. Which airport were the two planes intending to land at?
7. Which well known building, now much expanded, started life as Nottingham House?
8. By the late Roman period, Londinium had changed its name. The new name is shared by a famous golf club (not in the London area). What was it?
9. Now, listen carefully, as this is perhaps the most complicated question of the quiz. I’m going to read out the names of four men who all held the same role in London. Only one other person held this office, and he is much more famous. Who is the fifth man, and what was the role (for half a point each)?
Bill Fiske, Desmond Plummer, Sir Reginald Goodwin and Sir Horace Cutler
10. Which London borough was the birthplace of Boy George, Jim Davidson, Bernadine Evaristo and Vanessa Redgrave?
SCROLL DOWN for answers
1 point for each, location not needed.
1. Churchill (Parliament Square)
2. Lloyd George (Parliament Square)
3. Gladstone (Bow)
4. Attlee (Mile End)
5. Canning (Parliament Square)
1. The Jerusalem Tavern, in Clerkenwell
3. The Boleyn Tavern (Boleyn will do)
4. The Phoenix
5. An elephant, called Jumbo. Jumbo refused to drink, and according to a newspaper account of the time: “"He was the model of abstemiousness: not a drop of intoxicating liquors would he touch, in spite of the many offers thrust upon him.
1. (c) Mayfair (at 17 Bruton Street)
2. 13. It's a remarkable story.
3. Stained-glass window
4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
5. (a) Venison and cranberry
1. River Fleet
2. Natural History Museum. He also designed the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in Mayfair
3. Thomas Chatterton (full point for just Chatterton)
4. Prince Albert (his statue in Holborn Circus was shifted about 10 metres during work to improve the junction
5. (a) Millbank Tower, which is by Ronald Ward and Partners (who also did the Nestle tower in Croydon)
1. Barnes (or Barn Elms)
2. Burnt Oak, Oakwood, Royal Oak. Half a point for any two, full point for all three. Note, Gospel Oak does not count as it is Overground and not a tube station.
4. Kensington Gardens (half a point for Kensington Palace… it’s close but no in the palace grounds). Here's our article about it.
5. Thomas Hardy (who, before he was famous, helped to clear part of the churchyard of bodies, to make way for the railway)
1. George VI (The Mall)
2. Elizabeth I (Westminster School)
3. Edward VI (St Thomas’s Hospital)
4. Charles I (Guildhall)
5. George V (Westminster Abbey)
1. A. Wenlock and Mandeville (half point for each). Less well remembered is that W&M had their own theme tune, sung by recent Strictly Come Dancing star Tom Fletcher (then of the band McFly)
2. A statue of Christ (the Redeemer), like the one in Rio. It was much discussed at the time, but never entered the formal planning process. Just ‘statue of Christ’ is good for the point.
3. Thomas Heatherwick
4. Victoria Park
1. Borough High Street
2. Bart’s or St Bartholomew’s hospital. A plaque in the hospital museum records the incident
3. Paddington bear
4. The Ministry of Love
5. Chelsea (the adjacent Wellington Square and Bywater Street, respectively). Also accept King’s Road
1. A. Lord Mayors of London (they remain the only two female Lord Mayors)
2. Blackwall tunnel
3. Dracula by Bram Stoker
4. The Oval, or Kennington Oval
5. (d) Markham Square which is just of the King’s Road in Chelsea (near Bond and Smiley)
6. (RAF) Northolt. Here's the full story. Note, the Staines air disaster of 1972 killed 118 people, but that plane crashed beyond the Greater London boundary in Surrey.
7. Kensington Palace
9. Leader of the Greater London Council (GLC) and Ken Livingstone
TOTAL: 50 points